I bet you're thinking I've spelled NATS wrong. But I'm talking about NATS, not gnats (although they're actually quite similar). What are NATS? Negative Automatic Thoughts. How do you get rid of (or at least reframe) them? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall--practice!
NATS are nasty, self-directed habitual thoughts that burrow into our core beliefs and present themselves as truth over and over. They often begin in childhood, and like perennial weeds crop up every year. They choke our growth, and like strangled flowers, we can't turn our faces to the sun and thrive.
What are some examples of NATS? Here are a few:
No matter what I try, I fail
I'll never have enough money
It'll never be any different, so I might as well give up
Any of these sound familiar? If not, that's fantastic, but if so, these thoughts can feel like the deep truth of your being. I mean they have to be true because they've been there so long, and how could they have been there to begin with if they weren't true? And on and on and on. The brain loves an old thought. That deep, repetitive groove in your brain feels like an old friend who sees change as the enemy and will keep you walking down the same street even if you fall into an open manhole each time. No, it doesn't feel good when it happens, but it is predictable, and in a strange way, safe. After all, you can't change the truth. Except it isn't truth. It is a self-concept masquerading as truth. And it can be changed with practice.
There are a series of questions taken from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that allow you to deconstruct, question and reframe these thoughts. You might have seen them before, but they are worth repeating here:
So, what does this have to do with life coaching? On the home page of speakyourpeace.net I pose this thought:
Your were born to live your best life. One that embraces your talents, skills and vision. Still something is holding you back. You hear the insistent voice of change, but don't know what to do. The good news? You already have the answer. It is you.
You actually do have the answer, but you have to clear the weeds (NATS) and plant some different seeds (reframe your thoughts). A life coach will help you start and then continue this process until your garden looks a whole lot different. This takes both practice and accountability, but is so worth the effort. Now get your hoe and start digging!
Monica Lowy is a Certified Holistic Life Coach, NYS Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and integrative bodyworker. She invites you to speak your peace, so feel free to leave your comments!